On January 24, 2009 I published my first post. It's been a decade of huge change and I feel I owe much of that life overhaul to this blog, Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino.
Why I began a blog about Italian food and lifestyle
After starting, and becoming obsessively consistent with my blog writing, I soon understood that the recipes were a bonus, what readers were most interested in were the personal stories, the intimate reflections, the journal entries.
I was mildly intimidated by the technology and, as I expanded my professional engagements, worried about the time sink. But I felt the urge to write, it was––in a moment of deep professional change––the best therapy I could ask for.
My first post was how a bowl of Minestrone saved my psyche after a demanding rainy Sunday. For the first two years, I blogged twice to three times a week and had a blast. I wrote mostly posts that revolved around the sensorial or emotional allure a certain dish or food gave me, these posts almost always ended with a recipe. Later I slowed down to one blog post per week, then I started linking to blog posts and articles published on other platforms, like The American and Casa Mia. Now I'm down to two posts per month. If any.
From that very first entry, to the present, I have written 470 posts. Some were hugely popular, others nobody read. Some I changed the title to (but still kept the crazy URL), and some I've removed altogether. Overall, the engagement––that initially skyrocketed over the course of only a few months, and that has somewhat endured despite my hiccupping entries––has been mind blowing.
The posts my readers loved the most on Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino were:
- Carbonara recipe (48 comments, 5,839 page views)
- Ossa dei Morti recipe (45 comments, 6,221 page views)
- Arrosticini (40 comments, 8,046 page views)
- Gluten-free Rome (35 comments, 55,422 page views)
- Italian fish and seafood names, translated (35 comments, with whopping 107,669 page views)
- Italian superstition (33 comments, 23,229 page views)
- Parmigiana di Melanzane recipe (30 comments, 27,540 page views)
- Gnocchi from scratch recipe (30 comments, 10,673 page views)
- La pasta! (29 comments, 54,661 page views)
- Orecchiette alle cime di rapa recipe (28 comments, 36,112 page views)
- Frico, soft and brittle – recipe (13 comments, 21,118 page views)
If you look at the posts listed above, what's interesting, is how over time page views grew, compared to the number of comments, which intead slowly dwindled. In the past readers not only commented but many wrote long answers that resembled letters, or posts themselves. That's not counting spam comments, often in other languages, and linking to some form of product or service...
This was all happening before there were so many different social media outlets like Facebook where the comments turned into a virtual room where people opened conversations and sometimes actual debates.
Blogging's ChangedLife, new job opportunities, a growing child and a million other reasons account for why I slowed down my blogging, and thus engagement. But I feel I should also take into account the fact that blogging, in itself, has changed.
Now with Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest, it's our job to engage and grow our audience on all platforms, which personally is a big challenge. Podcasts and videos have also replaced the longform written word.
Many bloggers have assistants(often virtual) to help with posting, photography and video, content development, answering emails, newsletter compiling and other chores. But for most food and lifestyle bloggers, it's still a single person hobby.
As for me, my ten (and a half) year-old blog about the Italian food and lifestyle continues to be a place where I love to engage with my readers. Thank you for joining me over the years! I'm grateful you're still here, even though I've not been consistent.
Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino is still my favorite way to communicate with you.
If you feel the same, please leave a comment letting me know what topics you'd like me to write about; what recipes you'd like to see here; and how you feel about blogging and blog-reading ten years after first landing on this site. I'd love to hear from you. Grazie!